Hasselblad or Rolleiflex TLR? Opinions appreciated
I have done a lot of reading on this great forum re: the 2 above systems. I was originally going down the RF path but have come to these two systems as I love 6x6 and ground glass. I have been shooting 35-mm for a long time and DSLR but yearn a return to film. Preferably I'd spend around the $2000.00 mark for a system. I am comfortable with the fixed lens on the Rolleiflex as I would like to work with one lens at a time to gain my confidence. I am equally comfortable in getting to use the Blad and understanding that system. I have seen quite a few Rolleiflex TLR's on Ebay and have read mixed opinions on the lenses and the systems. i.e. the 2.8 vs the 3.8 - Xenetor vs Tessar etc. Dennis Purdy seems to have a great knowledge of the Rolleis and if you read this thread I would particularly like your opinion. My main work would be portraits, some street work and some landscapes. Thanks for your help.
With a 2k$ budget, you can get yourself a sweeet kit out of either system. If you want to go the Rollei way, google Henry Scherer, he's one of the last Rollei authorized repairman for the Rollei TLR. (http://www.rolleirepairs.com/cla.htm) He sells and repair Rolleiflexes. With that budget, you should be able to get either a 2.8F or a 3.5F. Planar v. Xenotar is a non-issue; both are first rate lenses, and the differences are angels dancing on a pin.
If you want to go the Hasselblad way, check David Odess, http://www.david-odess.com/, who is the same thing as Scherer, but for the 'Blad.
I've been looking at both options recently, and went for a Mamiya TLR because of my budget (and because I got a Rolleiflex T dog in the meantime that I had to return). In medium format, I prefer the TLR for anything that involves more spontaneous shooting; the SLR is for more deliberate work, critical focussing. Image quality between the two system is equivalent, but you have to deal with the mirror vibration on the Hassy.
What I think is the real advantage of the Hasselblad, is that it's a standard: you can be pretty much anywhere in the world, and you'll find a Hassie rental place at some point.
If you're shooting more professionally, I would say go for the 'Blad; if you are working for yourself, and want something more intimate, go for the Rollei.
Using film since before it was hip.
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, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11
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The only advantage to a Hasselblad is the
interchangeable lenses. If you don't need
them, the Rolleiflex wins hands down. It
is smaller and quieter and more stable
and more elegant and less intrusive and
generally easier to use.
As for lenses, they are all pretty much
the same, no matter what you hear.
The differences are nuanced. Find one
in good condition. Budget an extra $200
for a replacement viewscreen from Bill
Maxwell or Beattie. Even with a new
screen and a CLA, you should be able
to get a first-rate Rolleiflex for under
Thanks guys, great information there. I'm in Australia so I hope it's easy to get a CLA done. I was planning on replacing the screen if I got one so that's in the budget. I don't work professionally so perhaps the Rollei is a good option.
I have a Hassy system and several Rolleis. I use prism viewing on both systems. The Zeiss and Schneider lenses are great on both systems. Before buying anything, I advise renting examples of both camera types and trying them out to determine which camera fits you and your shooting style best.
For landscapes, I don't use either my Hassy or my Rolleis. I use my Mamiya 7II rangefinder cameras (6cm X 7cm format) and the superb Mamiya lenses. I have one Mamiya body loaded with color film and the other Mamiya body loaded with black and white.
Everything is analog - even digital :D
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No professional intent means not more than one lens??? I just have to ask.
Anyhow, these are both great cameras, but quite different from each other. I do agree that if you decide that you will only ever need an 80mm lens the Rolleiflex wins hands down. It's much lighter, more quiet and it will produce great negatives. But it's a fixed lens camera and not a system. Now, you will get a very good -flex on your budget.
(As a side note: If I wanted to get a single lens medium format camera I would try to find a Fuji SW690 with a 90mm lens. No ground glass, but a very flexible and capable camera. This is much along the thinking of Tom H. with his Mamayas.)
Within the budget is also a semi-old (read -70ties) Hasselblad system. A 500 c/m housing, 1-2 film magasines, a standard 80mm lens, a 150mm lens, and possibly also a 50mm lens can be within reach if you a little bit patient, as it's a buyers market. It's a larger system but still not very "professional". It will do very nicely with portraits, street and landscape, giving you all the flexibility you will need.
For myself I used a 500c/m with a chrome 80mm and a single magasine for a number of years and found that to be enough, even though I sometimes wanted that 50 or 150 lens, which I didn't posess at the time. My system is larger now, but still the 80mm finds the most use (...ehh, along with my SWC which I bought for US$ 1200, but that's another story). If you want to go a bit wider from time to time, or like to use a long lens for portraits or distant landscape, there you go.
The optical performance of most of the Rollei lenses is very good. The "top of the line" should be the Zeiss Planar, which of course is the only option for the 'blad. Now, in practical terms there is no telling apart the different Rollei lenses, especially if you stop down a few clicks. An MTF chart would probably tell the difference, but that is not my normal subject in front of the camera.
Anyone of these cameras will, given proper use and care, give you a piece of engineering that is capable of breathtaking results along with that confidence which comes with great camera design and german glass.
It's really down to you to figure out what you want to do with your photography.
Last edited by edtbjon; 06-23-2008 at 05:16 AM. Click to view previous post history.
You want something versatile?
Get a Hasselblad (lenses, backs, macro tubes, winder, etc)
You want something compact and quiet?
Get a Rolleiflex (compact size, small weight, quiet operation)
If you only need one lens, a Hasselblad 501CM, 2.8/80 lens, A12 back is larger, heavier and noisier, than a Rolleiflex 2.8FX, which is better for street and travel. If you are thinking of using more than one lens, back or other accessories, the Rolleiflex will hold you back, unless you buy another one.
I own both and they compliment each other.
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Have not used a hassie enough to have any great opinion of them. In my hands the one I used never really "felt' right, but that is a purely subjective thing of little value.
Rolleis' however, I know well. With your budget, if it were me, I would look for the absolute cleanest 2.8 f model I could find. I would use the camera some before buying a screen for it, you may not need one.
I've used both pretty extensively. There isn't a lot to add to the other comments regarding A vs. B in terms of optics, size and weight, though a plain vanilla Hasselblad, on its own, isn't much bigger or heavier than a Rollei.
If you want/need interchangeable lenses or backs, the Hasselblad does that. However, if you like simplicity, the Rollei wins, as Ari says, they do compliment each other. And, in your 2K budget you could probably have both, if you're willing to import them from the 'States perhaps, and willing to put off additional lenses and backs for the Hasselblad.
I disagree with Weasel about the importance of the subjective feel of the camera in your hands. Especially for situations like street photography or portraits the camera should be part of you. I feel that how the camera works in your hands is much more important than what's engraved on the nameplate.
Currently I have a Hasselblad, I chose it because interchangeable lenses, and backs were important considerations for me. But, I do miss many aspects of the Rollei's. For example. the Rollei's waist level finder is easier to work with than a Hasselblad's, partly because of the shape and layout of the two cameras in use, partly because of the design of the early style Hasselblad finder hoods.
There are subtle features built into the Rollei, that don't exist for the Hasselblad, or that require accessories, I'm thinking specifically of the Rollei's sports finder which really adds to the camera's versatility IMHO.
If possible, before you spend your money, rent each one and use them for a week or so, and pick the one that you like using more.
Subjective " feel " is very important, but very individual. To me, the rollei just feels right; but that may not be the case for everyone. The rollei makes a part of me smile every time I pick it up.
You really need to handle both if possible, come to your own conclusions.